Nottingham Panthers endured a week to forget after crashing out of the Challenge Cup at the Quarter Finals stage in Belfast last Wednesday, they lost back-to-back ties in the Elite League to Guildford Flames, after Bank Holiday loss at Coventry last Monday, the Panthers are still without a win in 2023.
It was supposed to be new year, new era after beating the Blaze 6-4 on New Year’s Eve but a 6-3 reverse two days later got January off to a losing start ahead of their air trip to Belfast and the land of the Giants, where Nottingham took a slender 3-2 margin to the second leg of the Challenge Cup.
Things started great at the SSE Arena as Nottingham raced to a 2-0 lead on the night thanks to goals from Tanner Sorenson and Adam Brady with a 5-2 overall lead squandered, thereafter the walls fell in and Belfast hit back with five unanswered to turn the tie around and take a last four slot against Guildford Flames, who Nottingham faced on Saturday night at the Motorpoint Arena.
A tight contest saw Nottingham draw first blood in the opening period as Italian forward Daniel Tedesco netted but Guildford responded in the third through a familiar face, Jordan Kelsall levelling a game that went to Overtime before a shootout decided matters in the away teams favour.
Bonus point for taking the tie all the way, Nottingham were looking to make amends on Sunday night for their loss, and again after a tight goalless opening, took the lead for the fifth match running, through Mike Myers in the South East, before two Guildford goals gave second period advantage.
Two more followed as a thumping looked on the cards, before Brett Welychka responded, Flames stretched their lead to 5-2 before Welychka and Sorenson set up a tense finish but Nottingham were unable to level eventually losing out 5-4, Guildford now top of the tree a point above Sheffield in the standings, the Panthers sorrowful in sixth, face a return trip to Belfast this weekend which will see another two matches against the Giants who are fourth and five points off top spot, a whopping seventeen clear of Nottingham.
*Main image @PanthersIHC defending for their lives as the Panthers try and keep out the Flames.